AARP Oklahoma Advocates for Legislation Cracking Down on Telephone Frauds and Scams

Posted on 01/27/22

AARP Oklahoma is supporting two pieces of legislation under consideration that would aid in the fight against criminals who use telephones and text messages to defraud Oklahomans.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, criminals steal nearly $3 billion annually from older Americans through financial exploitation. The Federal Trade Commission reports the top way scammers contact victims is by phone, exemplifying the need to curtail unsolicited and fraudulent telemarketing calls. 

In December 2021 alone, Oklahomans received over 44 million robocalls and 32% of the calls were identified as scams, according to Robocall Index. That equates to 16.6 calls per second being made across Oklahoma in just one month. Fortunately, two pieces of legislation in the Oklahoma Legislature aim to dramatically reduce these types of calls.

HB 1891 by Rep. Danny Williams and Sen. Zack Taylor combats phone and text scammers by allowing local district attorneys and the Oklahoma State Attorney General to prosecute bad actors who spoof or mask their telephone numbers. Under this legislation, these criminals can be guilty of a misdemeanor and fined up to $10,000 per occurrence.

HB 3168 by Rep. Logan Phillips and Sen. Leewright further seeks to eliminate unsolicited robocalls by requiring companies to have an individual's written consent before placing an automated call or text. Companies that break this law could have to pay victims up to $500 as a penalty.

"Oklahomans need to be able to use their phones to conduct daily business and stay connected to their loved ones. Unfortunately, technology has allowed fraudsters and scammers unfettered access to individuals' phones. The sheer volume of calls and texts with spoofed or masked numbers makes it nearly impossible to tell if calls are legitimate," said Sean Voskuhl, AARP Oklahoma state director. "I applaud Representatives Williams and Phillips and Senator Taylor for carrying this important legislation to fight back against these criminals."

AARP Oklahoma supports this important legislation and encourages Oklahomans to contact their state representative and senator by email at action.aarp.org/StopFraud.

In the meantime, Oklahomans can help protect themselves by taking these important steps:

- Register home and mobile numbers on the state and federal do not call registries.

- Sign up for AARP's Fraud Watch Network: AARP provides the Fraud Watch Network as a free resource to all, not just AARP members. The Fraud Watch Network helps keep individuals informed on the latest scams, provides educational resources to prevent frauds and scams and offers a toll-free helpline to assist victims of frauds or scams. Visit aarp.org/fraud for more information or to register.

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